By Leighton Ginn
At the BNP Paribas Open, Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka to tie for most titles at the Indian Wells event, never dropped a set and dominated like he did in his 20s in his 6-4, 7-5 victory Sunday.
But the thing people might remember most from Federer’s fifth title at the BNP Paribas Open is one word that Wawrinka uttered during his speech.
Wawrinka was overcome with emotions, trying to fight off tears, only to see Federer laughing. So during his speech, he jokingly called Federer an asshole, which drew a big laugh from the fans and Federer.
“There’s not always cameras around, so I get called that sometimes,” Federer joked. “Quite often, actually. On the court is the first time, but it felt good.”
Everything felt good for Federer. Coming into the 2017 season, Federer had low expectations. He had missed six months of 2016 with a knee injury, and he didn’t know what kind of level he would be able to produce on the court.
But things went better than expected when he won the Australian Open title for his record 18th Grand Slam title.
With his title at the BNP Paribas Open, he tied Novak Djokovic as the winningest player in the tournament’s history with five.
“I’m not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did,” said Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round and Jack Sock in the semifinals. “I mean, couldn’t be more happy.
“It’s an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Yeah, last year didn’t win any titles. I don’t think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year. The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”
One of the tournaments Federer had to miss last year was the BNP Paribas Open. Before that, he had been in the finals the previous two years, losing to Djokovic both times.
With the victory, Federer will move up four spots in the rankings to No. 6. He is well ahead of where he thought he would be during the offseason.
“The goal was to be top-eight by after Wimbledon. Because if I would have lost early in Australia, I would have dropped to 35 in the world,” Federer said. ” It was a good approach, I thought, because it gave me time to get there. … It’s great, but you definitely have to reassess your goals maybe now and see, ‘Where do you go from here?’ Because this was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells, I can tell you that.
“Like I said before, I will make the plan for the remainder of the season after — especially for the clay after Miami, and then see also what the goals are, because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.”